Why doesn't math make sense anymore?
December 4, 2008 5:35 PM Subscribe
I've got math anxiety but not the traditional kind. I'm graduating with a math degree but I feel very insecure pursuing higher math. How did something this beautiful turn into a bugbear?
posted by anonymous to Education (20 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I've gone to a good undergraduate institution (Fields Medalists in the faculty) and I've taken higher math classes on functional analysis, algebraic topology in addition to foundational stuff (real analysis, topology, algebra). So I'm happy with the training I got and material I've been exposed to.
My problems are:
1) Self-worth: I don't feel creative or original. An English major isn't expected to be an author, but in Math you're expected to produce. I studied math because it was beautiful but the thought of making it a job has made me second guess my first love.
2) Abstractness: I never feel like I really know what's going on. I can pass the classes/tests but I feel like I'm faking it, as if I'm just parroting proofs. I've considered applied math but there's this really macho posturing between pure and applied and applied is seen as "dirty" or for the guys who couldn't hack it.
3) Intelligence: I used to breeze through lower division classes and would be the go to guy for a problem but in these upper division classes I feel like I don't get things as fast as my peers. They can follow a conversation on harmonic analysis while I have to scramble to write down notes and take several hours after class to understand. Some of my friends have papers published with professors and I feel like I'm behind the game.
4) Socialization: I don't feel like I can connect with my professors on a personal level. I'm fairly socialized and have hobbies like music but my professors are either genetically blessed or work non-stop and think about math all the time. I don't know if I can commit to that level of intensity.
I don't know if I should go to graduate school. I feel like I've put in so much time thinking about this stuff that it would be a waste to stop now but at the same time I don't know if I want to continue the abusive inferiority complex. I'm considering teaching high school math but I feel like I've failed relative to some of my friends going off to prestigious universities for doctoral studies.
Please help me think about this stuff.